Marijuana and Socialism – Interviews with Russian people in Moscow - April 2004

Author: Dimitry Paranyushkin (on 22 Dec 2009)
"Yes, legalize marijuana, that's what needs to be done..." - Denis
The questions below were sent to us by Way to Russia readers. Our writers go out on the streets and ask exact same questions to ordinary Russians they meet. Their answers are below. Want to ask a question? Leave a comment here or on our Facebook page.

Denis: 25, has his own music and video shop-kiosk in front of Semenovskaya metro station

Denis - music and video seller

Question: "Would you ever consider emigrating, and if yes, to which country?"
A: No, I don't want to emigrate.

Question: "Where would you like to travel?"
A: Holland. They have a simplier life - you know - you can smoke hash freely, that's very good.

Question: “Do Russian people see anything in common with American people?"
A: No. We have too different mentalities.

Question: "Is there anything you have done so far in your life you feel proud about?"
A: No.

Question: "What do you think about rich people, such as Mikhail Khodorkovsky (jailed head of Yukos company)"
A: I don't give a fuck about it, if they made a lot of money - that's good for them.

Question: “If you had a chance to make a change in Russia's government policy, what would that be?"
A: I would legalize marijuana. Look, most car accidents happen because people are drunk, vodka is the worst drug. Marijuana is innocent, my friends got a few years in prison just for smoking it, it's crazy, no? Yes, legalize marijuana, that's what needs to be done.

Question: "What sex in Russia is like?"
A: It's 100% as good as anywhere else and depends how far the woman is ready to extend her fantasies...

Question: "Is there racism in Russia?"
A: Yes. Let me explain you why. You see, there's a shop in front of mine, yes? It's owned by Azerbaijani. They kill small business. When I wanted to open my shop they were doing everything for me not to be able to do so. I had to fight to open my shop. Is this good? They come to our country and behave themselves as if they are kings. I mean, look, you see they sell oranges over there? They could just sell oranges quietely, but no, they need to show off, to shout... I don't like them.
Q: What do you think about foreigners or black people then?
A: Black people, I don't have anything against them at all. It's only Azerbaidjanis.

Question: "Why so many Russian women want to marry foreign men and leave their country?"
A: I don't think that many want to do it. Those, who do just want money.

Question: "What do you think about USA president Bush?"
A: I don't care about him, but I don't like that he makes wars.


Lyudmila Petrovna, a woman in her 40s, lives with her husband and two sons (both have higher education). She has just left her job, because she didn't like it (worked there only 1 day) and was sitting in Mu-Mu cafe on Arbat street enjoying her dinner

Question: "Would you ever consider emigrating, and if yes, to which country?"
A: Have never thought about this. No, I wouldn't.

Question: "Where would you like to travel?"
A: France, India and Australia.

Question: “What can a foreign woman do so that a Russian man likes her?"
A: In relationship everything depends on character, it doesn't matter which nationality people have, I believe.

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Question: "Is there anything you have done so far in your life you feel proud about?"
A: I would always like to be proud of my children, not myself or my achievements.

Question: "It is said that Russia is both European and not. What is the most European aspect of Russian mind, and what is the most Asian aspect?"
A: Unfortunately, the most common "European" part is that people want to become more kind of casual, more "free", but they do a bit too much of that.
The most "Asian" part is that people are a bit too limited in their mind, kind of opressed by what is happening around them.

Question: “Now that you know advantages and disadvantages of both Socialism and Capitalism, would you ever consider coming back to Socialism?"
A: Socialism is not that bad. I liked that during the socialism the moral was higher, younger generation had a clearer vision, goals. There was more unity among people. All these things I miss a lot.
Now the society turned to different values, everybody is separated, there is no "big ideal" that unites everybody. There's no stability. When I was young everything was stable, we knew what would happen in 20 years. You might say it's too predictable or boring, but this was making life very secure, we were not afraid for our children future. And no there's no security, everyone is for themselves.

Question: "What is the average salary in Russia?"
A: $170 in an average level in Russia, $300 in Moscow. Men earn more. There are people who come to work in Moscow from smaller towns, for them 6 - 7 thousands rubles is already enough ($200).

Question: "Do Russians see everything through the mask of indifference and alcohol?"
A: The mask of indifference - I don't agree. All people react.
Alcohol - I can't say that many people drink. Maybe it's tradition, problems can't be solved this way.

Question: "What do you think about G. Bush government policy?"
A: I don't like his political goals and I don't like him as a person. Cowboys shouldn't be governors, they should look after cows.

Question: “What do you think about Putin (Russian president)?"
A: I'm disappointed with him. First I thought he would do good for my country (it's typical for Russians to believe in Tsar - a man who will come and solve everything), but I don't see any changes comparing to what was there before him.

Question: "What sex in Russia is like?"
A: Sex can be good or bad, it depends on feelings. For me, there can be no intimacy, without inner respect to the person.


Nadezhda Pavlova a babushka who was sitting on Arbat street, when I asked her for an interview
Slava - from Belarus

Question: "Would you ever consider emigrating, and if yes, to which country?"
A: I don't know, no, I wouldn't want to go anywhere.

Question: “Where would you like to travel?"
A: I won't go anywhere, my age is not for traveling.maybe only to Ukraine where I come from...
Q: But wouldn't you like to see new places, if you had an opportunity and health where would you go? Try to imagine?

A: Well, somewhere to Europe, to Italy.

Question: "Is there anything you have done so far in your life you feel proud about?"
A: I'm proud of my grandchildren

Question: "Are you disgusted that there are some people in Russia such as Mikhail Khodorkovsky (currently in jail) that have been able to become billionaires in less then 10 years (since the demise of the CCCP) while the average Russian worker only earns about 100 USD per month? Especially since these people have made their money by "acquiring" formerly state owned (CCCP) industries."
A: I don't understand where they have all these money from. I live for 3 years in Moscow and I don't get any pension, live in poverty... Those people built palaces for themselves and are very rich...
I worked a lot, for 34 years as a chief economist in kolkhoz (agriculture), and now I have nothing. The government doesn't even pay me pension, because I'm not from Russia. But Russia and Ukraine used to be the same in CCCP and now I live in poverty.


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